Normally I try to avoid confrontation at all costs. Last night brought with it one I couldn’t avoid but with it came a deeper understanding of myself and what I value most in life.
After our family finally arrived home last night, we decided to let the girls play outside at about 7:15 or 7:30, as it was just beginning to get dark. While they were outside, riding their bikes in the driveway, I busied myself making dinner and feeding the baby. At about 8:10 or 8:15 I went outside to bring the girls in for the evening.
I stepped outside to see our neighbor, a mother of two twin boys, loudly chastising Patience and Prudence. Her anger was quickly directed at me. As usual, I can’t remember verbatim what was said. With that being said, I was informed, not in the politest of manners, that my kids needed to get in the house and that it was far too late for them to be outside. She stated that the girls should not be riding their bikes around her vehicle. It was also brought to my attention the utter inappropriateness of allowing them to do so.
My initial response was to state it was only eight o’clock and to request she leave parenting decisions to the parents without outside input. The confrontation was then brought back around to the car. I believe in getting both sides of a story, especially when strong emotions are involved. So I asked and both Patience and Prudence confirmed that they were indeed playing around her car. As I began getting their stories and punishing them for the wrongs I believe they committed, the woman wrapped her bath towel a little tighter and went back inside.
I could elaborate on how offended I was, pontificate on my parenting beliefs and justifications, rail about the woman and her behavior, or question different parenting styles. Instead I’m left hoping for a place where importance is placed not on the value of the things we acquire in a lifetime, but instead on the value of what one does with the gifts they are given. I happen to agree that the girls should not have been playing around the neighbor’s car. I also agree that it was time for the girls to come inside. With that being said, the worst possible outcome to a five and six year old riding tricycles around a car at night is cosmetic damage.
I struggle to reconcile the level of anger and aggression directed at the girls and myself with the possibility of fixable cosmetic damage. I am not judging our neighbor for her beliefs. It is her property to do with as she wishes, to take care of as she pleases, and to place whatever importance she feels is appropriate. I firmly believe to each their own. Nor do I bear her any ill will. While I don’t agree with her or her choices in this experience, she helped me come to understand a deeper part of myself and I thank her for her part in helping me learn that lesson.
Now, I am left wishing there were more of my kind of people or that I could gather us all up in one big group – The people who would see a dent in their car, punish the offending children fairly, and later find out what fun game they were playing that got them so excited and wrapped up in fantasy that they forgot their common courtesies, as children are prone to do.
There must be others like that. Is there a place that nurtures that kind of thinking? If not, I definitely wish there was.